UZWIL, SWITZERLAND and VILNIUS, LITHUANIA — On Nov. 7, Bühler Group announced a partnership with Divaks, a Lithuanian producer of insect-based products, supporting the company as it seeks to establish its first commercial-scale plant for the yellow mealworm production.
The facility will provide Tenebrio molitor ingredients for use in premium pet food, as well as meat alternatives, snacks, sports nutrition and confectionery applications. In support of a circular economy, byproducts from the process will also be utilized as organic fertilizer.
Founded in 2020, Divaks is building on a pilot plant established in May 2022 and is now ramping up production on an industrial scale. The upcoming facility will span 10,000 square meters (approximately 107,639 square feet) and will be located in Lithuania’s Marijampolė Free Economic Zone. Completion of the facility is expected in 2025.
With the new commercial-scale facility, Divaks hopes to double its production by 2030. Once finished, the plant will have the capacity to produce up to 15,000 tonnes of insect-derived products per year.
“We are delighted to have been chosen to provide a full-scope solution for Divaks’ yellow mealworm production site,” said Andreas Baumann, head of market segment, insect technology at Bühler. “It reinforces Bühler’s commitment to ambitious targets that will help to mitigate climate change and build a more sustainable food system.”
Insect-derived ingredients from Tenebrio molitor.
| Source: Divaks
Bühler will spearhead the plant’s process technology. This includes feedstock preparation, a fully automated larvae growth system with climate control, and a processing line to create various yellow mealworm ingredients such as textured proteins, protein concentrates and other specialized ingredients for the food industry.
“This is a huge step forward for Divaks as we work to establish ourselves as global leaders in high-quality, insect-derived ingredients for human nutrition,” said Kęstutis Lipnickas, chief executive officer and co-founder of Divaks. “Bühler will deliver the state-of-the art technology we need, allowing us to focus on the most important activities: market development and creating sustainable products that excel in nutritional and functional qualities.”
According to Divaks, the European Commission has deemed yellow mealworms safe for human consumption, opening the door for more sustainable insect-based and alternative protein ingredients to make their way into meals and snacks for pets and people.
Insect ingredients from yellow mealworm also offer environmental and nutritional benefits. According to Divaks and Bühler, mass production of insect ingredients requires less water, energy and fewer land resources compared to traditional proteins, and could allow for one-third of the European Union’s food waste to be upcycled through the bioconversion process. In addition, insect-based ingredients deliver all essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals as a complete source of protein, according to Divaks.
“Edible insects have a key role to play as we move toward a more resilient and sustainable food system,” Lipnickas added. “Our new facility will help food brands tap into this fast-growing, high-potential sector with high-quality protein ingredients for premium food products.”
Divaks is currently seeking new investors to contribute to its series A funding round, through which it has already raised a significant portion of its €67 million ($71.7 million USD) goal.